The second concert of the 18th Other Minds Festival of New Music (OM 18), held on March 1, 2013, began with the traditional informative panel discussion featuring many of the nights composers and performers. Joining Other Minds Executive and Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian on stage was Dohee Lee, Mattias Petersson, Anna Petrini, and Craig Taborn. The Korean composer and performance artist Dohee Lee talks about her home on Jeju Island and how her work is inspired by her grandmother’s risky practice of diving for abalone and conch without using an oxygen tank, and how that traditional lifestyle is now threatened by environmental and geopolitical changes. Pianist Craig Taborn talks about his early training, including the lessons he learned about the importance of intentionality or the need to first know why you want to learn something before actually learning it. He also talks about how he improvises at the piano, and the fact that his work “Avenging Angel” is partially inspired by the current global political climate. Anna Petrini describes her square shaped contrabass recorder, and how much of the repertoire for the recorder is either very old or very new. Mattias Petersson discusses his interest in electronic music, which for him includes writing actual computer code.
The concert then commences with:
“Ara” is a Korean word whose various meanings include “ocean” and “eye”—symbols of rebirth and wisdom. This piece is meant to evoke the regenerative power of the ocean as the energizing force behind life and the cycle of rebirth. It was composed in the context of my ongoing project entitled MAGO—a multidisciplinary performance and installation piece that combines music, installation, film/animation and dance/movement, and is inspired by Korean shamanic music and ritual, traditional mask dance and puppet arts, and mythology.
Myths and rituals regarding the ocean were abundant where I grew up, on Jeju Island in Korea. Jeju has a strong tradition of female free divers called “haenyeo,” women who risk their lives daily, diving to depths of up to 20 meters for seafood such as abalone and conch to sell in the marketplace. My grandmother was one of these “mermaids of Jeju Island” and this piece is also an homage and mythical interpretation of the haenyeo as beautiful mermaid warriors and wise protectors the ocean.
In 2011 I commissioned instrument builder Colin Ernst to create a new stringed instrument that might express the harmonizing, vibrating forces of the universe. It has eight horizontal “harp” strings and three vertical bowed (or plucked) strings. We co-designed the instrument which he fabricated in 2012. I call it the Eye Harp because the body of the instrument is designed as one of the universal symbols of wisdom: the eye. —Dohee Lee
"Split Rudder" explores the sounds of the Paetzold contrabass recorder from the inside. With all openings on the instrument, except finger holes, being covered with tape, a microphone inserted in the foot joint captures a rich timbral world and highlights a range of contrasting actions, from a spectrum of intimate air timbres to harsh growls in the lowest bass register. The development of the musical material and the course of events have been influenced by the focused and dramatic storytelling of the ballad “Briggen Blue Bird of Hull” by Swedish composer and troubadour Evert Taube. —Malin Bång
Flux, reflux; inspiration, expiration: the regular articulation of the tide, or of the breath, defines a distant, timeless sonoric landscape which is progressively subjected to a process of distortion, contraction, asymmetrisation and fragmentation up to the point that it explodes into different registers, from the extremely low to the extremely high. Exploiting the different extinction times of the sound in the extreme registers of the instrument I have sought to produce the illusion of superimposition and simultaneity. Seascape involves the use of amplification and reverberation but not of any electronic treatment of the sound. —Fausto Romitelli
"Sinew0od" for Paetzold contrabass recorder and electronics is a complex feedback network that the performer interacts with in different ways. The inner resonant frequencies of the contrabass recorder are amplified by means of electronic feedback. These resonances are influenced by played notes, key clicks and breathing, but also stimulated by sinewaves, injected inside the instrument with the help of two small modified speakers. "Sinew0od" was composed for Anna Petrini on commission by Rikskonserter. —Mattias Petersson
Avenging Angel Solos
“Avenging Angel," a powerful, creative and rigorously uncompromising album, is the first unaccompanied solo disc in Craig Taborn’s discography as well as the first ECM recording issued under his name. The album was recorded in the exceptional acoustic of the recital room at Lugano’s Studio RSI, with Manfred Eicher producing.
In the last few years, however, solo piano performance has become a priority for Craig Taborn. “If the areas of improvisation that I deal with are always ‘compositional’ in a certain sense, in this case a very focussed compositional approach is applied, rather than allowing a broader exploration to yield a result. Throughout this recording I’m honing in on specific details. The music is really improvised: I just start. But having started, I try to relate everything that happens, like the motivic or rhythmic and textural detail, to the initial ideas as closely as I can. In terms of my own playing I try to have things emerge from the musical material itself.
And a lot of that can depend on the instrument, too (in Lugano, a Steinway D): the sound of the piano itself and what it is generating. I’m interested in the history of piano music, certainly, but I’m not hearing the instrument quite in those terms. I’m experiencing it also as a pure sound source, very aware of the tones and the overtones and how the instrument is ringing. This music is not about ‘transcending the piano’ as much as it is about working with what is possible within it.”
Amongst the album’s striking characteristics is the way in which Taborn balances density of sound-events and structural clarity. “I like transparency and I like the details to be clear. But I also like layering the sounds: I like a complex palette, multiple voices, multiple rhythms, but I also want to be able to discern things, including all the spectral details that come up.” —ECM Records
Note: “ARA” by Dohee Lee was commissioned by Other Minds. The performance by Mattias Petersson was made possible with support from the Barbro Pro Suecia Foundation, American-Scandinavian Foundation and Adah Bakalinsky.
Charles Amirkhanian, moderator/host
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, video
Silvia Matheus, video
Panel Discussion; Dohee Lee; Anna Petrini; Anna Petrini & Craig Taborn
Contact InformationFor more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org